Don’t give in, give up!

I was sharing with a client today. We talked about how they wanted to give in. Out of my mouth came, “we don’t want to give in, but we want to give up.” Giving in is what happens when we have using willpower for a long time. Giving up is what we doing where we surrendered our wills. We stop trying.

There are two ways to give up. The right way and the wrong way. Giving up in the wrong way is like giving in to the temptation. We feel guilty and then it fuels more willpower in the end which keeps the cycle going. Giving up in the right way helps us give up all our efforts and trying in our own strength. It is trying to be God. To know everything, to be everything. We don’t think we a doing it, but we are. We are saying, I am not going to do this. But hadn’t we failed in the past? Why do we keep on doing the same thing and expect a different result.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” says the proverb. We shouldn’t give up on the program, we should get keep trying, keep seeking. We need to experience God. But until one experiences the miracle of surrender they are not aware of how there is a deep sense of letting go of our will, our self and letting God do for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Facebook in Real Life

We have to ask ourselves about the good and the bad about Facebook.  It definitely has shaped our culture. We don’t do a lot of things the same way.  It has become a way to communicate through text, videos, pictures, advertisements.  These videos help us see what Facebook would be like in Real Life.  Some are a tiny bit off color, but I included them just to help us get the idea of what is going on and how it is affecting us.  There are more than one.

The Original “Facebook in Real Life”

 

 

Brene Brown and Vulnerability

I saw this video and it has really impacted me.  Here is it.  It is Brene Brown, Ph.D., MSW who speaks at TED on the science of connectedness, shame and vulnerability. I have heard people speak before, but she does a really nice job on this.  The video did kind of get viral.

 

This is really appropriate for addicts and anxious people in recovery.  Take the time to view this and I will be commented on it soon.

Making Mistakes

I am sitting in my son’s pre-Algebra class. The teacher is incredible. Really good. I think math scares a lot of us. It is the fear of making a mistake, the fear of not even knowing what the teacher is talking about or getting answers incorrect that probably is the root of it all.

This teacher said, “homework is about making mistakes and learning how to correct them.” “If you aren’t making any mistakes you shouldn’t be in this class.”

I thought about how profound this was. If in our home we aren’t making some mistake and learning from them, should we be in the home? We will have graduated to the next class, or next life. As long as we are on earth, we are going to make mistakes. Should we be so afraid to make them that we become paralyzed? NO. This would be a waste of time. Making mistakes is the only real way to learn. NO, I should scracht that last sentence. We can learn from others’ mistakes. This is effective. We see what happened when our fellow students broke one of the rules and got sent to the principal’s office. We can learn by sitting in 12 step groups and see what some of the consequences our fellows have made and I do think we learn from them. But what I mean to say is, that “one of the most effective means of learning is through our own mistakes.” How many of us have learned something really, really valuable and it changed our lives, with out some form of making a mistake and correcting it though God’s grace. We are inclined not to make that same mistake again. How many of us didn’t learn from instruction of others, or the mistakes of others?

So, think about this. If we make more mistakes are we going to learn more? Maybe. I think we all would like to learn from the mistakes of others, or get the information from books or others, rather than suffer through the mistakes. Perhaps it is the suffering that gets our attention. But if addiction is all about “not suffering” are we going to learn? Maybe this is why we get stuck in the addiction and we get stuck. We aren’t wanting to feel the discomfort of what the addiction is telling us. So we don’t learn every time is smacks us to the ground. We get back up as though nothing happened. We might feel so ashamed, we can’t learn.

It is said that:

The humble progress.

If we are not humble, we don’t learn from our mistakes. We don’t show are work in the spiritual math class, we guess at the answer. But in recovery, we need to show our work. We tell on ourselves, we don’t just show our work, we show our mistakes. It is showing our mistakes to the teacher or others that we learn from them. In doing this, we become humble and God’s grace is given to the humble.

The teacher her is humble. She doesn’t pretend to know everything. She is very accepting of the student’s level of knowledge, their mistakes and distractions in the classroom. By creating this safe atmosphere the students are learning and learning is more fun.

If the teacher is prideful, shaming, controlling and expects too much. . . the students are too afraid to learn. Are we too afraid to make mistakes that we aren’t learning what we need to learn in recovery? We have to be patient with ourselves and not expect too much. We can ask God who is a great Teacher who is going to be patient with us, love us, help us correct our homework mistakes and expects us to do our own work. We have to do some of the work, but He is the one who ultimately enables us to learn.

If we are humble we are there to learn and not to teacher. We let go our our own ideas and learn new ones. Our problem often is that we hold onto our own ideas. Why? fear? Shame? We can’t admit that we don’t have a clue how to live our life.

In the math class of life won’t want 3 X 3 to = 9, we think it should equal what we want it to be. Math isn’t going to change. It is what it is. I know there is a “New Math” out there but it is about how to do the math, not the actual facts of math. If we are humble and really look at the mistakes we have made, we will see how we have errored and we will learn that 3 times 3 is 9. It isn’t want we think, what we feel, but it is and always will be 9. Math is learned best with less shame and fear. I think sometimes, people who think they are not good at math, it is not their brainpower to learn it, but really their fear or shame that prevents them from learning it.

Do not let your fears get in the way of learning what you need to in recovery, or your life. Your life is too precious. Addiction might have tricked you to think your:

You + your life = 0

But this is not the case. You and your life are precious to God whether you have made a lot of mistakes or not, whether you learned from them or not, whether you are GOING to learn from them or not.

Take care,

Erik

How much control do we really have?

Do we really have much choice or is there a Power, a personal God that is directing our lives and intervening? I had just lit the candle for my evening prayers and went to use the bathroom. I take a chance with this and I am not advocating lighting a candle and then leaving the room. As I type this I realize that it is an unnecessary risk. Light it when I am ready to pray and blow it out when I am done. Anyway, I was thinking, how much is God saving me from disaster. Perhaps, he is saving me a hundred times a day, from falling over, getting run over, running someone else over or running into someone. He could be saving me from candles exploding, food poisioning, a natural disaster like earthquake, flood or tornado. Of course this sounds very ego-centric to say that he stopped an earthquake to make my day. As I get older, I realize more of the dangers that exist and I think how God is protecting me from them. Perhaps, I don’t have as much control as I think I do.

If I believe I have a lot of control, then the responsibility lies upon me. It is my fault if I get the disease, the house burnt down or the next calamity. If this is the case, then I need to make sure I am always choosing the right choices. But guess what? I think I choose the wrong things many more times than the right. Why am I not zapped with the consequences of my bad choices?

For instance, I eat some left over Halloween candy that I did not think I would indulge in. I am not prone to eating high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor and food dyes and enjoying it. If I were to indulge, why not a high quality chocolate bar? But I did anyway. It is 10 times better than 10 years ago. Why don’t I get immediately sick. As a kid, I could eat the stuff and barely feel it. Today, I eat a little and wonder how anyone could like anything this sweet and tasteless. . . and I kind of get sick. The next day, I felt a sugar hangover. So, do I pay for the consequences yes, . . and no. It appears that God in His mercy has built into our bodies a mechanism for making mistakes with food, poisons, lack of exercise, too much stress. There is a resiliency factor. When we are young, perhaps there is more resiliency because of the foolishness of childhood, or maybe our bodies are just younger.  The point is:

God in His mercy allows for mistakes.

If I don’t learn and keep abusing my body, I may eventually have to pay. So, maybe God is protecting us more than we realize. We give Him so little credit.

There are two types of people in the universe. Sorry, for being so simplistic and here I am a professional counselor who should know better than to pigeon hole people, but here it goes.
Some people hold on too tightly and others don’t hold on tight enough.

The first group are control freaks, worry all the time, plan too much, over analyze, over control everything and feel too responsible for everything.

The others don’t think enough about consequences, make too many mistakes, are impulsive, and irresponsible. The spiritual endeavor of each is to move more towards the middle. The control freaks need to learn to let Go and let God run things. To trust a little. To realize it is all going to work out, even with the mistakes in life. God can use them for His purpose. It helps us realize that we are not God. Only He is perfect.

The others need to hold on more. Pay attention. Get a grip and start being responsible.  To reach out to God in prayer and ask him for wisdom and knowledge to make less mistakes.  For the diligence to get things done and turned in on time.  To have God instill in them a healthy fear of him and the consequences that exist in the universe.

In the serenity prayer where it talks about the “wisdom to know the difference” –I often overlooked this part of the prayer. I really didn’t and still don’t have the wisdom to know the difference pf what is in my control and what is not. What if we rearranged the prayer to give it more meaning.

God give me the wisdom to know what things are beyond my control and I need to accept them. Give me wisdom to know what is in my control and help me to do something about these things.

Knowing the difference between these two things may make all the difference.

Take heaven for example. If there is God and a heaven, and what the Bible says about how to get there is true, are too many of us thinking we will end up there, just because we are sincere in our belief system that we have made up on our own? What if we are not taking enough responsibility, not courageously living out our lives enough to the level of what God expects from us?  What if we are being too lenient with ourselves, lowering God’s standards.  Maybe we are in denial? On the other hand, perhaps we understand what God expects of us and are terrified that it will never happen for us. We are relying too much on ourselves, our sense of control rather than upon His mercy which is beyond our control. The free gift of salvation cannot be earned. It is beyond our control. But, if it were that easy to just accept the gift why don’t we all make it into heaven? Because there are parts of the salvation process we must work for.

Works, you say?

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” (Phil 2:12)

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:23-24)

If we love God we are going to do something.  This something is within our control.  The rest that happens is up to Him and it involves His Grace, which is empowerment from on high, the Holy Spirit.  Without Him we can do nothing.  So it is vital that any actions we take are mixed with the Grace of God.  You will find that this is the combination that helps us not only get sober to be stay sober.  It is by His Grace that we are saved.

Lance Armstrong appears to be Lying

Lance Armstrong appears to by lying. How can this happen? We don’t usually think of an athlete using a drug to boost performance like a drug addict or drug abuser. Consider this. They lie about it for fear of the consequences. There can be denial as well. A fantasy world as well. Shame which makes it impossible to share the truth. A trap in which the person is stuck. Physical consequences that are a result of using the drug.

Just like the spouse who was supporting addiction unintentionally by looking the other way, we have an organization in the case of Lance Armstrong. Any addict may look at it this way. If the lie be told, that is what will cause the harm. But maybe the taking of the drug in the first place is what causes harm…or the lying. Most spouses I have worked with tell me the lying is one of the hardest things, not necessarily the using.

No doubt Lance Armstrong brought about a lot of good. He helped and inspired many had had cancer. His livestrong bracelet created a whole series of other colors supporting other health causes. Many people who struggle with addiction use the good causes to avoid thinking about it dealing with the problems they have with the substance they have used. It helps them stay in denial. Denial is a strong mechanism. Until the situation becomes safer for the person to face reality or sometimes a person is blown out of denial through confrontation, but this is rare. Most of the time if someone is to come out of denial it is when they can let the defenses down. Denial becomes stronger when there are three components. The greater the shame of the behavior, the stronger the attacked and the greater the consequences is what seems to fuel denial.

What will happen next has yet to be seen.  Perhaps, Lance will confess that he got caught in the trap.  Good can come out of all this.  How many of us has never lied?  How many of us has lied to save face?  The challenge is how could Lance have felt the great winning 7 victories in the Tour de France?  Was it that he felt, “everyone else does it (doping) so he won an even race?”  Perhaps he is innocent and the people at the lab had an ax to grind.  Someone had to have gone in an messed with his lab results over the years.  Someone had to predict that there would be a test that would come out later that would measure EPO, sneak into the lab and mess with the results to that Lance would loses the medals only in hindsight.  It didn’t stop him from winning them at the time.  It is a stretch to believe this.

Like an addictive family, I believe that the system is bigger than the individuals.  This is more than just about Lance Armstrong.  Many have come forward and confessed that they used drugs to enhance athletic performance.  These confessions are the beginning of wellness for the whole profession and organization.

Erik Bohlin, M.A.

http://www.erikbohlin.net